The traditional Maltese Carnival is held on the last Thursday before Lent. This means that this year, it will be taking place starting Thursday 23rd February, and the largest celebrations will be held mainly in the capital city of Valletta, as well as in Victoria, Gozo.
Carnival is not only centred in the capital cities however, as other localities also organise their own festivities during this time. Nadur in Gozo for example, is well-known for its own particular typical Carnival revelries. Apart from the floats, dances and entertainment aimed both at children and adults during the day, Nadur is popular for its spontaneous adult-oriented Carnival, which usually takes place on Saturday night. People can be seen walking to and from the main square wearing satirical masks, saucy costumes, and making practical jokes. Various activities are also organised, including a number of live bands, costume competitions and even a street party.
Xagħra is another Gozitan locality with its own particular Carnival traditions. The most well-known is perhaps the enjoyment of the Kummittiva dances, where a number of dance companies have various repertoires of traditional folk dances. The locality of Xewkija in Gozo is also admired for its défilé of floats which it prepares with the participation of the local band club. Other localities in Gozo with spectacular and unique Carnival festivities include the villages of Għarb and Qala.
In Malta, almost all towns and villages organise some kind of to-do during Carnival. Qormi organises band marches with bandmasters from the three Qormi band clubs all dressed up in costumes. The Mellieha Carnival too has its own parade, as do the towns of Ħamrun, Saint Julians and Għaxaq, amongst others.
Since Carnival focuses on different modes of expression, it is also an opportunity for locals to display an array of talent. Singers, dancers, musicians, actors, and other entertainers all flock to play their part while having fun and displaying their enthusiasm during this time of the year.
In 2017, Carnival will officially start on Thursday 23rd at Pjazza Teatru Rjal in Valletta, with a colourful opening ceremony and a number of speeches. Afterwards, there will be a costume competition and all the dancing companies attending, will present a taste of what their repertoire for this year. Saturday is traditionally known as ‘the Children’s Carnival’ and is headed by a special float known as the King Carnival Float, which will take centre stage at Saint George’s Square in Valletta.
Throughout the afternoon and evening, a street party featuring floats, dance companies, costumed participants, entertainers and musicians, will be taking place throughout all of Valletta, as well as in other localities. The festivities will continue officially until Tuesday 28th February, with the grand finale taking place in the evening in Saint Anne’s Street, Valletta, whereby all the floats, dancers, entertainers, and participants will be present for the closing ceremony.
Tickets to attend and for seating inside the enclosure at Saint George Square in Valletta can be purchased here!